In detail

What are the Body Work Techniques in psychology?

What are the Body Work Techniques in psychology?

Faithful to the slogan that we are a body in union with our mindExperiential models have developed various techniques so that the body has an important role in psychotherapeutic work.

These techniques are aimed at realize emotions and express them through the body and, in addition, to change the body itself (as a record of deficiencies, repressions and blockages).

Here we explain three of the main techniques most used in therapy.


  • 1 Realize emotions through the body
  • 2 Expression of emotions through the body
  • 3 The body as a direct objective of change

Realize emotions through the body

They are work techniques that, focusing on the body, they intend to develop the ability to make contact with emotions and sensations and, from there, do a job with situations and conflicts with which the client associates them. This type of intervention can range from using the body as mud for a sculpture - as in the therapy of Gestalt-, until the signaling of the tension in a body part by the therapist - any humanistic work technique would do it, going through specific work with a body part (since each body part is usually identified with a type of emotions) by means of exercises aimed at that end.


A session revolves around the anger that the subject feels towards his father. The therapist realizes that the client has a tense jaw and points it out. He proposes that he focus his attention on this tension and explain what thoughts or images he provokes. The client says that he appears the image of a dog destroying its prey. The therapist asks him what this has to do with his anger towards his father. Work continues in this line.

Expression of emotions through the body

In order to experience emotions more deeply, discover others and thus expand the emotional range. You can work by exaggerating gestures or postures, repeating and expanding them to cause a contact or to point out a new type of more creative and flexible response. This type of work is usually framed within a playful framework in which music and various materials that facilitate play and expressiveness intervene.


The body analysis approach of the relationship (formerly called relational psychomotor skills) A. Lapierre is a good example. One of its typical sessions consists in provoking the break with obedience to the established norms. For this, the therapist and the participants, by imitation of the therapist, since they are sessions in which the whole relationship goes through non-verbal communication fill the floor of the room with newspaper papers. Once the papers are in place, the therapist starts to kick and mess up, and "gives permission" to the participants to do the same. A game begins that goes from the aggressiveness, to "hit" the other with papers and also to give affection, such as building a nest or giving away an object made of papers. The objective is expand the repertoire of participants' responses through the body and nonverbal communicative expressiveness, as well as elaborate conflicts regarding the norms.

The body as a direct objective of change

In the body there is a record of repressions and child conflicts and, therefore, it is full of blockages and rigidities. Unlocking the body and giving it flexibility we also unlock and give flexibility to our way of functioning. From bioenergetics, exercises such as the following are proposed:

  • Sound breathing, which aims to increase contact with oneself.
  • Bioenergetic arc, intended to facilitate the unlocking of chronic tensions from different parts of the body.
  • Shout and make movements to express emotions that have been systematically blocked by the individual.
  • Rooting or grounding, to facilitate the feeling of roots in reality and the depth of the relationship with the environment.

The therapy of energy centers proposes massage techniques based on oriental theory that there are energy centers that regulate emotions, feelings, sexuality, roots, wisdom and aggressiveness. Doing a series of dynamic exercises, in motion, detect which energy center is blocked and intervene, give yoga exercises to do, propose a specific massage of the area that regulates this energy center and also design dance exercises to unlock it.

Body work techniques help to realize denied or forgotten emotions, to unlock forms of rigid functioning and very people-based defenses, and to find new modalities of response to relationships and to ourselves, using the body as a means and / or objective of change.